Body Count – Barbara Nadel

Another evocative murder mystery set in Istanbul, this decent crime novel mixes the hunt for a serial killer with the personal ponderings of Inspector Ikmen and Commissioner Ardic. Both are getting old and retirement is on the agenda. Their internal musings – occasionally verbalized to the supporting cast – are a strong part of the fine characterization on show. Both are rounded, interesting, and complex individuals who act as the author’s voice, delivering some nuanced (and some not so nuanced) observations on life in Turkey.

The plot involves a clash of old and new Turkey, with views of the underclasses and the downtrodden to remind us that outside the warm and hospitable homes of the heroes, there are many places a lot less friendly and pleasant. The gritty realism portrayed is matched by the no nonsense approach to the violent acts which interrupt the stalled investigation.

At times the book slows down too much and seems to lose its way. Just at the point where it starts to get annoying, the pace picks up again. I couldn’t decide if this was intentional or otherwise, and maybe reflected the need to make the narrative more realistic given real life police work is jam packed with long boring stretches of slogging. The writing is no slog, but the pacing means that you do have time to enjoy the view.

You could read this as a standalone novel and enjoy it. If you do, there are many more to read and also enjoy – perhaps even more than this one. If you are a serious reader, I recommend skipping this for now, and starting with

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